Search by Crop & Variety: Alba Winter Barley


Alba is a six-rowed winter barley with rough awns and a lax spike. The grain has white aleurone. Alba is an obligate winter type: it requires vernalization for flowering in a timely manner. Alba has a level of winter hardiness comparable to other varieties commercially available in the Pacific Northwest of the US. Alba is resistant to barely stripe rust and scald. The planned end use of Alba grain is as feed. Food use is possible. Alba would not be suitable for the production of malt using current protocols or for the current beer styles.
According to pedigree records, Alba was derived from the cross “Strider x Orca” made in 1997. Strider is a winter feed six-row with a strong vernalization requirement and winter hardiness comparable to other commercially available winter varieties. Orca is a two-row spring feed variety with no vernalization sensitivity and no winter hardiness. Although Alba  shares alleles in common with Strider and Orca, there are also alleles present in Alba that are not present in either parent. The name Alba was chosen due to the bright and attractive appearance of the crop at maturity. Alba is derived from the Latin for “white” and means “dawn” in Spanish.
Alba was tested for agronomic, disease resistance, and malting quality traits at multiple locations throughout Oregon, Idaho, and Washington from 2009-2011. Trials have been conducted under irrigation, without irrigation under high rainfall, without irrigation under moderate rainfall. Winter survival was characterized under field and controlled environment conditions.
Overall, Alba is a high yielding selection with excellent test weight and kernel plumpness. Alba has excellent resistance to barley stripe rust and scald. Winter hardiness is comparable, and in some cases superior, to commercially available varieties. When malted under standard conditions, Alba does not have a malting quality profile that would be of interest to mainstream or craft brewers. The principal defect is high wort beta glucan. Alba  has only been characterized in a preliminary fashion for food quality traits. The high kernel plumpness yields an attractive pearled product and a high flour: hull ration. Grain beta glucan is comparable to other commercially available barley varieties and oat products.
Averaged over 28 location/years, Alba had an average yield of 6,611 lbs/acre. This yield was 2% less than that of Strider, 5% greater than that of Maja, 8% greater than Eight-Twelve and 15% greater than that of Charles.  Alba has an excellent test weight (52 lbs/bu), which was higher than that of any variety except Maja.  In addition to high test weight, Alba has high grain plumpness. It was the plumpest six-row averaged across all trials and it was only 3% less plump than Charles, a two-row. Alba was significantly taller than the other varieties and it was also significantly later (by 3 – 4 days). Although taller and later, Alba is not more prone to lodging than the comparator varieties. Data was collected in three types of production conditions: irrigated; non-irrigated, high rainfall; and non-irrigated, moderate rainfall.  In each of the separate environments Alba is among the highest yielding varieties and consistently has high test weight and kernel plumpness. The later maturity and greater plant height for Alba observed in the average data was most obvious in the high rainfall, non-irrigated environment (Corvallis, OR).  In this environment, lodging was not a problem. Therefore, Alba has high yield potential in production environments of the Pacific Northwest.
Alba has excellent resistance to scald and barley stripe rust. Strider and Orca, who figure in the pedigree of Alba, have remained resistant to the spectrum of barley stripe rust virulence encountered in the Pacific Northwest of the United States since their releases in 1997 and 1998, respectively.  Like Strider and Orca, limited stripe rust symptom development is observed on Alba – an average severity of 1% and a high of 2%. This limited symptom development may be indicative of quantitative resistance, which is more likely to be durable than qualitative resistance.  Alba has consistently shown the lowest scald ratings of any variety.  As in the case of barley stripe rust, some level of scald disease will be observed under intense epidemic conditions.
The malting quality profile of Alba does not meet current industry criteria. Although grain plumpness is excellent, when malted using standard protocols the percentage of malt extract is too low, and the percentage of wort beta glucan too high, to interest craft or mainstream brewers. For food purposes, the hull of Alba would need to be removed for most uses – either by pearling or by sieving of stone-ground flour.  Alba has normal (non-waxy) starch. Grain Beta glucan was measured in two tests (both at Corvallis, OR in 2011) and the average value for Alba was 4.3%, as compared to 4.2% for Strider.  This grain beta glucan level is typical of varieties that have not been specifically bred for higher levels of the trait and is comparable to that observed in commercially available rolled oats.  At this level of grain beta glucan, standard serving sizes of whole grain barley foods and breads containing up to 40% barley flour will meet the USDA Health Claim.  The only feed quality traits measured were kernel plumpness and test weight, and Alba excels for these traits.
More limited data are available for Alba from Parma, Idaho (irrigated) and on-farm trials in Northwest Washington.  At Parma, Idaho in 2011, Alba was compared with Maja, Strider, Sunstar Pride and Charles. Yields were not significantly different, but the average yield of Alba was 8,400 lbs/acre, as compared to 7,344 lbs/acre for Sunstar Pride and 7,584 lbs/acre for Charles. Alba had a test weight of 50 lbs/bu, and significantly better kernel plumpness (87%) than Maja, Sunstar Pride, or Charles. Alba was significantly taller than the other varieties (45 inches) but the lodging percentage was only 2%.

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